By Jaly Marquez
Syllabus week, the first week of the college semester where professors and students get to know each other and learn more about the class they’re taking. The very first-roll call usually has a series of mispronounced first and last names. But, as the higher education community continues to grow, there needs to be a more inclusive learning environment for the needs of FSU’s gender-variant students. The faculty and professors can create an atmosphere that supports trans-identified and gender-nonconforming students by asking which pronoun they would prefer to be called. As a college community, we can create more gender-inclusive spaces where all students are free to be who they are, and this starts in the classroom.
Trans-identified and gender-nonconforming students should be able to feel comfortable knowing that professors know which pronoun the student prefers. An FSU student states that “My roommate recently came out as transgender, so he’s really trying to get people to start referring to him with his new pronouns but I don’t know if he’d like everyone in the class knowing what he’s doing.” The student wants their roommate to feel comfortable enough to be himself out there, but not at the expense of his privacy. For this reason, professors could possibly hand out a paper stating which pronoun and/or name each student prefers to be called. This cuts confusion early on by specifying it at the beginning of the semester, starting on the very first day of syllabus week.
In addition, it should happen even before professors take roll-call so that it gives each student the full opportunity to express themselves. This allows the student to express their gender identities but in a safe and private manner if they need it. They should also feel like they are being listened to in a respectful, as well as nonjudgmental way. Some trans-identified and gender-nonconforming students are in the process of transitioning. So, saying one’s name and using the right pronoun can help this transition happen a little more easily and they can continue to be their authentic self.
Updated February 27th, 2019: A student’s name has been removed from this article to protect the privacy of the student mentioned within the quote.